On December 5, 1905, 19-year-old laborer Mrs. Annie Killhoff died at her home from an abortion performed there that day. Two physicians, Joseph Vassumpaur and Charles Boddiger, were arrested, Vassumpaur as the principle and Boddiger as an accessory. Patrick Dillon was also held as an accessory. The case, however, never went to trial. Annie's abortion was typical of pre-legalization abortions in that it was performed by a physician.
Note, please, that with overall public health issues such as doctors not
using proper aseptic techniques, lack of access to blood transfusions
and antibiotics, and overall poor health to begin with, there was likely
little difference between the performance of a legal abortion and
illegal practice, and the aftercare for either type of abortion was
probably equally unlikely to do the woman much, if any, good. For more
about abortion and abortion deaths in the first years of the 20th
century, see Abortion Deaths 1900-1909.
Fast forward nearly a century.
Seventeen-year-old Janice Gumm went to
Dimensions Medical Center at 1455 Golf Road in Des Plaines, Illionis,
for an abortion on December 5, 1998, to be performed under anesthesia.
Her abortionist was Dr. Jesse Chandler, and the anesthesiologist was Dr. Murray Rosenberg of Hospital Anesthesia Group.
The suit by Janice's survivors held that Dimensions failed to perform an
adequate physical examination prior to the abortion, particularly in
that they did not properly assess her increased risks due to the fact
that she had asthma. As a result, Janice suffered an anesthesia-related
complication that resulted in her death that day.